SEOUL, Nov. 12 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's official newspaper urged farmers on Tuesday to voluntarily contribute a larger portion of their harvests to state warehouses, calling such donations a patriotic act that allows the country to stay strong.
North Korea takes back a certain proportion of harvests from farmers under a state purchase scheme and allows the remainder to be distributed among them. State purchase is apparently aimed at securing food to meet the state's needs, such as feeding a large number of troops.
The call for larger contributions from farmers might suggest a worsening of food shortages in North Korea amid yearslong poor harvests in the face of unfavorable weather conditions and crippling global sanctions.
"Large-harvest pioneers are now taking beautiful action of offering patriotic rice to the state even after carrying out the state grain purchase plan," the Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the North's ruling party, said in an article.
"Those who fill the country's warehouses should be regarded as patriots," the paper added. "Our party and country can remain strong thanks to such patriots offering their true mind by putting state warehouses ahead of their own."
North Korean media has urged all-out efforts to maximize grain production this year amid reports that the communist state might be facing worsening food shortages as the country suffered droughts and typhoons that hit its grain-producing regions.
North Korea's crop output last year reportedly hit the lowest level since 2008, with an estimated 10 million people, or about 40 percent of the total population, in urgent need of food.
According to a recent report by GEOGLAM, a Switzerland-based crop monitoring organization, North Korea's crop production this year is estimated to come below average, an estimate that adds to concerns that its already serious food shortages could get worse.
In June, South Korea announced a plan to send 50,000 tons of rice via an international agency to the North but Pyongyang rejected the offer, expressing displeasure over a joint military drill by Seoul and Washington.
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